Home Featured Slider Australian upstart 99designs raises $35 million from Facebook’s VC outfit

Australian upstart 99designs raises $35 million from Facebook’s VC outfit [ANTHILL EXCLUSIVE]


Today, 99designs, the world’s largest online marketplace for crowdsourced graphic design services, announced a $35 million first-round investment led by Accel Partners, with participation from angel investors Michael Dearing (eBay, Harrison Metal), Dave Goldberg (Survey Monkey), Stewart Butterfield (Flickr, Tiny Speck), and Anthony Casalena (Squarespace).

In this exclusive podcast for Anthill, 99designs co-founder Mark Harbottle speaks with James Tuckerman about the deal and what it means for the three year-old Melbourne company and its 26 employees.


Accel Partners invests in 99designs

The design crowdsourcing company was founded in Melbourne in February 2008, when co-founders Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz — the entrepreneurs behind sitepoint.com, Flippa.com and Learnable.com — spun it out of the SitePointForums.

99designs, which employs 26 staff in Melbourne and San Francisco, was bootstrapped and is profitable, and has enjoyed 120 percent year-on-year growth since launch.

According to the organisation’s website:

  • 99designs has over 100,000 designers in 192 countries.
  • The company has paid out over $19 million to designers to date.
  • 99designs has hosted 75,000 projects, resulting in a new design uploaded every six seconds.
  • There are more than 10,000 logos available for customization and sale in their logo store.

99designs is Accel Partners’ third investment in Australia, including Atlassian Software and OzForex. According to a media statement, the new capital will be invested in international expansion, platform development, community initiatives like design scholarships, and aggressive hiring in San Francisco and Melbourne.

Accel Partners has a history of investing in game-changing online businesses, such as Facebook and Groupon. When asked why it chose this particular company as an attractive investment, Accel partner Andrew Braccia explains, “99designs has quickly become a global market leader in its category, providing an invaluable service to its customers and their global community of design professionals.”

Michael Dearing, whose private investments include Admob (Google), Heroku (Salesforce.com) and Mix Labs (Twitter) will join 99designs’ advisory board, alongside investment heavy-hitters Dave Goldberg (Survey Monkey), Stewart Butterfield (Flickr, Tiny Speck), and Anthony Casalena (Squarespace).

“99designs caught my attention when I realised that nearly every one of the early stage companies and entrepreneurs I work with was turning to them to get great design work done,” said Dearing in a media statement.

“The team has created a marketplace that is easy for companies to get onboard with, and is also a boon for designers who can go after any of the hundreds of jobs open at any one time.”